Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Districts of Innovation – Part 2

On February 16, I posted a link to an article published in Texas Lone Star by James B Crow, Executive Director of TASB, in which he offered his perspective on the opportunities created by passage of HB 1842 relating to Districts of Innovation.  Within that article was a link to a Q&A that addressed how districts would go about pursuing this.  The link to the article can be found here.

With the Commissioner now having posted rules defining which provisions can be exempted, we can now look at what districts are doing to consider this and how it will impact their ability to make decisions most impactful to their district.

I recently had an opportunity to attend the quarterly meeting of the North Texas Area Association of School Boards (NTAASB), during which Denton ISD discussed steps that they have taken to build on opportunities defined by HB 1842.  HB 1842 defined the process for becoming a district of innovation; TASB’s interpretation of the process can be found by clicking here.

Click on Denton ISD presentation for content presented at the NTAASB meeting.  Other districts at the meeting, including Mansfield ISD and Lewisville ISD,  also shared what they are doing in exploring the feasibility of a district of innovation approach.  The consensus seemed to be that most are pointing toward the Fall of 2017 for implementation due to the requirements defined by HB 1842.

The net of this is that a board must first adopt a resolution and conduct a public hearing on becoming a district of innovation.  The board will then appoint a committee to draft a comprehensive plan that identifies the specific provisions in the Texas Education Code from which the district should be exempted.  The plan must be posted for 30 days, the commissioner must be notified, and District-level advisory committee (DAC) approval is required.  Board adoption of the plan then requires a two-thirds majority vote.

Denton ISD undertook a community survey to better understand the expectations of the community so that they can align the board’s mission, vision and values with those expectations.  This is not a task taken lightly by the board or by the administration.  As part of their direction, Denton ISD will ”advocate and practice true accountability based on measurement of individual progress over time, regardless of external mandates”. 

Adopting a district of innovation approach will provide the district with the flexibility to do those things most important to the community, while pursuing this vision.  The commitment to alignment and using the information gathered to help define direction of the district is a critical element in the discussion about becoming a District of Innovation.   Their progress and willingness to share this with NTAASB member districts clearly demonstrates Denton ISD’s commitment to Make Education a Priority.  

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